Sunday, July 22, 2018

Why the 2018 Federal Government Contractor Study is Essential for Small Contractors

This past Tuesday I attended the briefing for Market Connection's latest study, 2018 The Federal Government Contractor Study. The study was co-sponsored by the Professional Services Council and the Merritt Group .

The goals of the study included

- identifying best practices of winning government contractors
- identifying the challenges of marketing and business development professionals
- determining how marketing and BD are organized and how they work together
- measure the effectiveness of marketing materials, activities and tools
- determine strategies used when targeting and responding to RFPs
- and to quantify changes in personnel, budget, tools, teaming partners and communications.

I am not going to do a deep dive here. Instead I will highlight what I consider to be some key points for small contractors, the areas you must pay attention to in order to succeed. I strongly urge you to download the study overview and review it with your staff.

On page nine (9), the first page of the findings, there is the list of Organization Capability Ratings, which include:

- demonstrating thought leadership and subject matter expertise
- government customer relationship management
- readiness to adjust to changing government acquisition strategies
- differentiating from the competition
- capturing and managing customer, prospect and contract data
- overall marketing investment
- providing the sales organization with marketing support
- lead generation
- tactical business development/sales efforts
- and moving leads and prospects through the sales funnel.

I have highlighted three areas above as critical for small contractors. Small contractors have fewer resources than larger firms, and while each of the above is important, the three I highlighted can provide the most traction for smaller firms in a shorter period of time.

Thought leadership/subject matter expertise (SME): I have been preaching this sermon for years, and it remains perhaps the most critical issue for small biz: highlight your main area of expertise and develop it it fully. Work hard to be at or near the top of whatever that niche is.

Defining and defending that area of expertise should be job one. Job two is making certain you share this SME status in the major places people will vet you: your company web site and your social media profiles, especially LinkedIn.

Differentiation: is part of the SME platform development. There are many ways to differentiate your company from the competition, including:

- unique process or technology
- staff has higher level certifications/training
- company possesses cert levels not held by many (CMMI Level 3, etc)
- higher level of service (aside from lip service)
- specialization in a horizontal area (finance, transportation, supply chain, etc)
- specializing is one agency
- and many more.

You can further differentiate by combining two or more of these. Defined and used well, your differentiators can help you win more business sooner.

"Differentiation beyond price" is a recurrent theme in this study

Tactical business development and sales efforts: contractors with fewer resources need to focus on activities that get traction quickly. These efforts need to focus on your core talent, the SME areas where you have the best chance for near-term growth.

I address these and other areas in my small contractor advisory program for 2018-2019.

There are many facets of this study I have not addressed that are equally important. I will be writing and speaking about over the next few months.

If you'd like to discuss my Small Business Advisory Program email me at or reserve time on my calendar:

I'd also be interested in your take-aways after you read the study preview. What stood out for you?

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